BookSinglesHolidays: Thank you so much for taking the time to do this quick interview; we know how busy you are! We want to start off by saying that you are such a travel inspiration and we believe that the world would be a better place if more people took your example and traveled more. Do people come up to you and tell you that you and your blog influenced them in any way? If so, how does that make you feel?
Matt Kepnes: This doesn’t happen to me daily, but whenever I’m at a hostel (especially in Europe or Thailand) I get recognized. It’s a strange feeling, but I’m happy that my website is able to reach so many people.
More often I get emails from people who have just come back from a trip that they never thought was possible. I really like getting those emails because it means what I’m offering is making a difference!
BSH: You say that you don’t need to be rich to travel, yet so many people still don’t believe that is the case. What do you have to say to those people? How do you encourage folks to travel?
MK: Well, if 18 year old Australians can make it around the world for a year, anyone can. A lot of it has to do with changing people’s mindset and showing them that it is possible to travel through interviews, blog posts, and keeping up the message. More and more people realize travel is a possibility now but it’s going to take time to change a mindset that has been around for decades!
BSH: This year marks the 10th year since you started traveling the world. What are the most important life lessons that traveling the globe has taught you?
MK: People are good. All over the world, I have encountered amazing people who have not only changed my life but have gone out of their way to help me. It’s taught me that the old saying is true – you can always depend on the kindness of strangers. We grow up in this culture of fear in America that is unrealistic. 99.9999% of the people in the world aren’t murderers, rapists, or thieves. There’s no reason to assume someone is one. Sometimes, people are just trying to be friendly. Travel has taught me so many other valuable lessons too!
BSH: If you could talk to those backpackers in Thailand who inspired to start traveling the word, what would you say to them now?
MK: Thank you. You’ve changed my life. Also, can we exchange contact information and stay in touch!!
BSH: We’re not going to ask you where you see yourself in 5 years, because the answer would probably be on the road, but we are going to ask you: what would you like to achieve in the following years? What are the obstacles you wish to conquer?
MK: I love what I do, so I’d love to be able to continue growing Nomadic Matt and Superstar Blogging so more people are able to quit their 9-to-5s and create a life filled with travel and exploration.
Some of my travel goals include Climbing Mount Everest, visiting Antarctica, riding the Trans-Siberian Railway, spending a few months exploring India, and cruising around the Pacific Islands. I have a few other bucket list items to cross off, but I’ll conquer these goals as I go.
I’m also hoping that in 5 years from now I’ve mastered the work/life balance that I always find difficult!
BSH: You talked about how America has a vacation culture, and a not travel culture. What are, in your opinion, the changes that need to be made for travel culture to become norm?
MK: Change will come over time. The more people stop taking “vacations” and start “traveling” and sharing their experiences with others, the more normal it becomes. It’s like blogging. When I first started, I barely knew anyone that had a blog, read blogs, or even knew what one was! Now blogging is a common hobby and it’s becoming a good way to make a living. The process may not happen over night, but America is getting there!
BSH: You are budget-oriented and you offer lots of helpful tips on how to spend less when traveling. But what are the things that you simply cannot help splurging on when traveling? What are your guilty pleasures on the road?
MK: Sushi! I love good sushi. I also prefer to stay in my own room sometimes. If I need my alone time, I’ll book a hotel room on points (travel hacking all the way!) or private hostel room so I can relax and have some space to myself. But yeah, I always blow the budget on good sushi!
BSH: Your New York Times best-selling book, How to Travel the World on $50 a Day was a massive success. Are you working on a new book/project? What are your plans for the future?
MK: Aside from the books I’ve written, I also have a collection of city guides that I’m always expanding. In 2015, I opened a hostel in Austin, Texas that is doing really well. And my newest (most exciting) venture is my new course: Superstar Blogging. I recently overhauled my entire blogging program, making it more structured, with updated and vastly expanded content, new expert interviews, step-by-step video guides and picture walk-throughs, more webinars, and added tech support to help readers set up blogs! This isn’t a simple blogging course; it’s a robust travel business course.
BSH: You’ve been all over the world, but you haven’t been everywhere! Where do you plan to travel in 2016? Do you plan on revisiting places or is a new destination on your list?
MK: I’m writing this from Argentina! After this, I’ll be in Chile to hike Patagonia. This summer I’ll be in Stockholm as I travel down Europe to do the Camino de Santiago. That’s my big goal this year!
BSH: You also have a book club on your website. What are some of the books you recommend a novice traveler read before embarking on a journey?
MK: The best book for any novice traveler to read is Vagabonding, by Rolf Potts. Written by the godfather of vagabonding, Rolf Potts, this book is a must-read for those new to long-term travel. Rolf spent 10 years on the road (he even walked across Israel), and his book contains valuable insights, interesting quotes, and a lot of practical information. From saving to planning to life on the road, this is a must for newbies. It’s an inspirational book and one that really affected me when I was planning my trip.
Also, if you want book suggestions, I have a travel book club that’s free to join. Once a month, you’ll get a list of 3-5 awesome books worth reading.
BSH: Thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview! Good luck with everything!
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